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Bay Area News this Week – June 14, 2018: Mayors, joggers, a big-ass block party and goodbye to Bourdain

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First and foremost, Oakland may have just had it’s best week, ever! San Francisco got a new mayor, “Jogger Joe” goes to jail and we reflect on what Bourdain meant to the Bay. Here goes…

Mayor London Breed

It was over one (very long) week after San Francisco voters cast their ranked-choice ballots on June 5 that London Breed was finally and formally announced as the city’s new mayor, and the first black woman ever to serve in that role. Running a complicated and diverse urban center is no easy task and Breed certainly has her work cut out for her in tackling the crazy income inequality, affordable housing crisis and rampant homelessness…just to start. Time will tell how well she handles the job and immense pressure that comes with it, but we wish her luck. We should all wish her luck, because as of now, she’s responsible for one of the most culturally diverse, creative, influential and wealthy cities in the country. It also wins for having the fastest-growing income inequality. Let’s expect something better and hope for the best.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Photo courtesy of Curbed SF

And in more election news…

As Berkeleyside reports, nearly 100,000 votes are still uncounted in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, which could shift trajectories for a few tight office races and measures. We’ll bring you a summary of key results for both counties and San Francisco once we get some final answers, hopefully before the next election. smh.

Dubs know how to party

A four-game Finals sweep (in Cleveland, no less) has a way of stoking up a good vibe, as was evident in Oakland Tuesday. It’s even better when you beat LeBron James for the second year in a row. The back-to-back champions held their second championship parade in two years and the Town came out in force to shower their local heroes with love, confetti and a little Henny (shout out to Jordan Bell). Hell, even the cops were in on the party. With no reported arrests or vandalism to deal with, police were left with ample time to troll the Cav’s “King” themselves with a huge cardboard cutout of James’s notorious cry-face attached to the front of their cop cart, and big ol’ grins across their faces. Warriors Day (because that’s what it is and I’d like to suggest it be made a local, nonworking holiday) really is one of the best days of the year – it brings out the best in the city and the best in the people who love it. The Warriors are hard not to agree on (for locals, anyway) and it’s hard not to have fun when they’re around, cops and all. That’s just a fact.

You’ll be happy to know that the Golden State Warriors organization agreed to reimburse the city up to $1.23 million for the event logistics and cleanup (a million people can make a lot of garbage).

Warriors championship parade in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Nik Wojcik

Oakland jogger gets 15 minutes of fame and a tiny cell

Friday, we only knew him as “Jogger Joe”, the man who felt it necessary to disrupt his daytime Lake Merritt run in order to throw away “heaps of trash”. However, the “trash” belonged to Greg Markson, a homeless man who had been living at the lake on-and-off for about a year. A bystander, JJ Harris, recorded the incident, including pleas from other witnesses to leave the man’s stuff alone. But wait, there’s more.

The jogger, now known as 30-year-old Henry Sintay, returned to the scene of the crime the very next day, as did Matt Nelson, a concerned community member ready with questions and a cell-phone camera. Sintay didn’t take kindly to the recorded confrontation and muscled the phone away from Nelson, leaving him with minor cuts and bruises, and no phone. It didn’t take long after the video and live stream went viral for police to identify “Jogger Joe” as Sintay, with some public doxing help. He’s since been assigned a cell at Santa Rita on a felony robbery charge. Something tells me the view at Lake Merritt beats out Santa Rita any day of the week, “trash” or not.

In a streak of silver lining, some people who saw the video responded by bringing food and clothing to replace what Markson had lost, proving that for every one asshole, there’s at least 10 people waiting to do a good deed. Much love to the good people out there – good lookin’ out.

Weird shit you can do: Be a pirate for a day

You heard me right. In our first installment of “weird shit you can do on your day off”, we present you with the Northern California Pirate Festival, hosted in none other than Vallejo. For a tank of gas, small-ish bridge toll (for a limited time) and a $12 admission (kids under 12 are free) you can dress up and talk like a freaking pirate, and nobody will judge you for it. The festival runs this coming Saturday and Sunday (father’s day weekend for pirate-dads out there) and rumor is there’s food and alcohol – that always helps.

May the “Arrr” be with you.

Bay love for Bourdain

Anthony “Tony” Bourdain didn’t really embrace the Bay’s tendency toward vegetarianism, but he did get down with some of our meat-serving establishments, as well as our Brazilian jiu jitsu joints. He came for some of our best oysters, burgers, BBQ, steakhouses, lamb, curries and soul food. But for many, it wasn’t what he got from us, but what he gave us that was so damn special.

There’s an exception to every rule, but generally speaking, Bay Area people tend to appreciate different cultures (and the food that comes with them). We lived vicariously through Bourdain as he traveled far corners of the world, using a love of grub to find common ground with strangers. To some, he came off as a grumpy old bastard who was quick to dish out criticism, but others could appreciate the chef’s realness, damn good taste and disdain for pretentious bullshit.

Bourdain eating late-night burgers in San Francisco, prepared by his “walking Buddah”. Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

“Let no one say I don’t love San Francisco…It is my kind of dirty old town,” Anthony Bordain. Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

He was just as quick to note San Francisco’s dirty streets and front-and-center prostitution as he was to celebrate the city for its food, booze and culture. To be clear, he celebrated our grimy parts too, and he mourned with us as gentrification threatened to upend what makes us so unique. He may have been a New Yorker, but he was cut from our kind of cloth.

Throughout his long career of travel writing, he seemed happiest when he got the chance to sit down around a fire and eat (and drink) with locals. Those are the moments when he shined and it was those moments that offered a true gift for viewers, without all the non-edible cheese that makes other food and travel shows nauseating. He brought us the world and its food through his eyes and helped us appreciate our differences just a little bit more.

The best way to honor his memory is to do what he did best: get outside your comfort zone, order something you don’t know how to pronounce from a hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop shop and make a new friend along the way. Maybe even buy your new buddy a beer. If we all did that every once in a while, the world would be a much better place…one he may wish he’d stuck around to see. We can be sad (because it just sucks!) but don’t forget to be inspired too.

Anthony Bourdain making friends over a beer. Photo courtesy of PoGDesign

Rest in Peace Bourdain…this “dirty and nasty and wonderful” “two-fisted drinking town” will miss you like hell.


*Suicide is no joke. Depression and despair are very real and very debilitating for far too many people. Chances are you know someone who suffers. Be the friend who pays attention and helps get them the help they need. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.